The Sixth Sense – Shyamalans Best Twist

The Sixth Sense – Shyamalans Best Twist

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  1. M. Night Shyamalan is known for making films with wild twists at the end.  The film that really put him in the public eye was his 1999 film The Sixth Sense starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, and Toni Collette.  Not only did this film garner Shyamalan his only two Oscar nominations (Best Director, Best Original Screenplay), but it also made him a household name.  The film also picked up 4 other Oscar nominations including Best Picture, but didn’t win any of them.  Many argue that Shyamalan’s films after The Sixth Sense slowly slipped in quality, but that is for you to decide if you choose to watch them.

    What is it about?

    This film is really about two characters:  Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Willis) and Cole Sear (Osment).  Malcolm is a child psychologist who juggles a lot of different problems.  He is torn up about a previous patient of his named Vincent Grey, his marriage is crumbling, and he is having a hard time helping his current patient.  That current patient is Cole, who has a number of his own problems.  He is picked on in school, he and his mother have a hard time communicating… oh yea, and he sees dead people.

    Malcolm helps Cole realize that the dead people just want Cole’s help and, even though they are scary, the way to make them go away is to help them.  Cole also helps Malcolm realize that he has to let go of his feelings of guilt and failure over Vincent.  By helping Cole overcome his fear, Malcolm sort of makes up for his percieved failure with Vincent.  Also, in true M. Night Shyamalan fashion, there is a mind blowing twist at the end which may leave you speechless.  There are hints throughout the film, but it’s easy to miss them unless you are watching it a second time and already know the twist.

    Is it any good?

    The film didn’t win in any of the six categories in which it was nominated at the Academy Awards, but it is a very good film.  The acting is incredible.  Bruce Willis has been headlining blockbusters since the late 80s with mixed reviews, but he is very good as the troubled doctor in this film.  Toni Collette is also great in this film showing her range as Cole’s struggling mother.  She even picked up an Oscar nomination for her role.  The standout performance, however, is Haley Joel Osment as Cole.  Osment wasn’t even thirteen years old when filming The Sixth Sense but he captivates the audience in every scene he is in.

    The story is also very good because it is engaging and, more importantly, audiences can relate to it.  Malcolm feels like he failed in his career and it haunts him so much that it affects other parts of his life including his marriage.  Many people can relate to that even if they aren’t a child psychologist.  And Cole’s issue of having a problem that no one else can understand is something that many have experienced.  It’s a lonely situation to be in.  The strongest emotional thread in the film, though, is Cole’s mom who wants to help her son but doesn’t know how to do so.  There is nothing worse than knowing your child is hurting and being unable to help them.

    Finally, the twist is amazing.  There are enough hints during the film that, once it’s revealed, you think to youself, "Oh yea… why didn’t I see that?"  But it is unexpected enough to achieve the desired effect.  Ultimately, it gives the film a lot of potential for repeat viewing.

    Nolan’s Grade:  A

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